Ask Skip: What is the most effective means to get managers to confront each other to resolve problems?

All Ask Skip Questions that appear in this blog are actual questions submitted to me directly from blog subscribers or other inquiries that come in through the main website or via my Social Media pages on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Feel free to submit your own “Leadership, Teamwork or Workplace Communication” question here!

This person also wrote, “they seem too concerned with damaging their relation instead of using their authority to resolve problems. We preach teamwork throughout our company but some management team members feel they will not be seen as a team player if they use me as a mediator to help resolve problems, what can I do?”

Skip’s Answer:
You are asking two questions here, really. One is the issue on getting management team leaders to confront each other on issues and the second is how to come to you for help to break through the logjams to move the issue towards resolution.

These questions are two sides of the same coin and are very related.

The answer as to why they don’t confront each other is due to something happening in the work environment that is not in their best interests to confront each other. Even though, as you asked in the full question you sent to me, it may be in their best interests to resolve the problem, the pain of the problem is not nearly as great as the pain they believe will come with confronting a teammate. Therefore, wherever we perceive the greater pain to be we will be more likely to move away from it.

Human beings are more prone to avoiding pain than gaining pleasure. So, even though you say resolving the issue is in their best interests, the pain of confronting a teammate is greater. For whatever reason it doesn’t matter except in regards of trying to fix this if you see it as a problem.

If you do see this as a problem (interesting that you have a problem with solving problems on your team, isn’t it? But, this is not unusual in my experience working with teams and organizations, it is quite common), you first need to identify the cause of the problem. Until you identify cause it is impossible to fix.

What could the possible causes be? Manifold, but here are a few:

  • egos
  • self-esteem
  • lack of self-confidence
  • lack of leadership communication and influencing skills

As far as the second question you posed, coming to you as a mediator, the reasons they don’t are exactly the same as the first question and the causes of this problem as also identical.

One final point, preaching “teamwork” may also be part of the problem. “Teamwork” is a myth and a platitude. The concept of teamwork has  little substance unless it is clearly defined with measurable behaviors with clearly identifiable rewards for acting in that manner. “Teamwork never fails, individuals fail teamwork,” and it is my estimation that failures of teamwork must be addressed directly to the individuals that are failing teamwork. This rarely occurs in most organizations and is the cause of a failure of the issues you are asking abo

A good first step is to raise the bar on the leadership skills of your managers, especially in the area of leadership and influencing communication skills.

To work specifically on this and other leadership strategies to improve overall performance on your team you may want to participate in the “Confident Leaders Training Camp” either the live TeleClass version or the home study version that will soon be available, learn more here.

If anyone would like further clarification on this please feel free to leave a comment below and start a discussion for all to learn from.

’til next time, make it a great day!





If you have an issue you are dealing with in leading your team and/or organization that you would like answered in my “Ask Skip” column, click here to submit your own “Leadership, Teamwork or Workplace Communication” question here and you might just see your question answered here in the coming weeks. I also promise to reply directly so that you get the help you need when you need it.